Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Should You Do It?

Today was an off day for the Blazers so I didn't go to the gym. Tomorrow is their last game and I am leaving town soon after and will not get the chance to post about it until I get home on Thursday. This seems like the perfect opportunity to answer the question that a couple of you have asked outright and many more have implied in e-mails and comments: Is it worth it?

I would say that if you like Las Vegas at all, it's definitely worth making the trip. After all, you can spend as little as two hours in the gym and enjoy the city for all the rest of the time you're here. That seems like a no-brainer. Personally (and this is just my opinion...not to offend anyone) I think Las Vegas is a lot like an aging French prostitute employing too much makeup to cover the wrinkles. It's OK as long as you hold onto your wallet and don't look too close. (It's also probably more palatable in the dimness of night.) Besides that, I also drove down here in the sweltering heat, sleeping in my car on the way. And even with all that, I still enjoyed the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. You could hardly do worse as far as the periphery, so you'll probably enjoy it too.

There are a lot of plusses to summer league. Most times you can basically choose your own seat. Always wanted to sit in the front row? Do it. Like to sit behind the Blazer bench or the opponent's? It's yours. Also you are very, VERY close to not only the players but a lot of league officials. If you've ever wanted to rub elbows with George Karl, see how tall Jeff Van Gundy really is, or find out how much cheese Mike D'Antoni likes on his nachos, this is your place. You'll see a fair number of former and current players too. And you can approach most anyone you want as they walk by. Most will take a moment to shake your hand and smile. Even if you don't feel like disturbing them, you are literally six inches from them as they pass. Yes...they're real people. You can also talk to almost any of the summer league players you want before and after the game. If you have kids who want a few autographs, this is the place.

There are a couple drawbacks. You pay for a whole day's session whether you watch one game or five. But compared to most expenses in Vegas the price is modest. Also in this day and age even a full-blown NBA game can look ragged and disjointed, and this is hardly a full-blown NBA game. There just isn't the talent base in summer league to cover all the plays that break down. However this can also be an asset. What happens (buckets and wins) isn't as crucial as how it happens and who does it. Summer league is the perfect place to practice one of my favorite pastimes--isolating on a player. This means you watch that player exclusively regardless of where the ball is or what's happening elsewhere. It'll show you exactly how that player is contributing to the whole (or not, as the case may be). In summer league you don't miss that much by focusing so narrowly. It's a great way to brush up your basketball IQ, understand how plays work, and find out about the young players all at the same time.

So yes, I'd heartily recommend visiting summer league at least once in your lifetime if you like basketball, the Blazers, and/or Las Vegas. It's a long trip, but it's worth it.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)


Blogger Scott R said...

Vegas kicks Arse. I am ashamed i did not go up for summer league being it is only about a 5 hour drive for me. But, the wife doesn't let me go nearly as often as i'd like and i just went at the beginning of May. So, that said...after hearing how much fun you had there, i'm definitely trying to make it out there next year! Maybe i'll try out for the squad...Do they have a place for a 5'11" small forward with a slow first step that can shoot lights out? Have a safe trip home Dave and thanks for the coverage from a fan's standpoint!!

5:39 PM  

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